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Report: Samsung's scramble to beat 'dull iPhone' led to Note 7 crisis

Report: Samsung's scramble to beat 'dull iPhone' led to Note 7 crisis


Internal pressures on engineers and batteries to blame

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Faults in the production of Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 leading to a global recall of 2.5 million devices may have been caused by the company's eagerness to outmaneuver Apple. According to a report from Bloomberg citing "people familiar with the matter," Samsung executives heard earlier this year that the new iPhone would only be an incremental update without major new features. The executives then decided to capitalize on their primary rival's perceived lack of innovation by pushing the design of the Note 7 as far as it would go.

This, says Bloomberg, led to tighter deadlines in the Note 7's production and greater demands on the phone's capabilities. One update for the phone was a larger battery than the previous year's model (3,500mAh instead of 3,000mAh), even though the Note 7 itself is only fractionally bigger than 2015's Note 5. It's this battery that has been the cause of the device's fire risk, with Samsung's preliminary reports suggesting that a fault in production led to pressure on the internal plates causing overheating and, in some cases, explosions.

Read more: Competing with the iPhone's specs is harder than it seems

Bloomberg reports that while the company's phone division blamed the fault on battery manufacturer Samsung SDI, managers there suggested the cause might be the Note 7's design. The publication reports that the chairman of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission echoed this charge last week, saying on Thursday that the Note 7 battery was slightly too big for its compartment. The Verge has contacted Samsung to ask for clarification of this issue.

Unfortunately, Samsung's rush to produce the Note 7 has been matched by a similar headlong charge into its recall, with the company issuing confusing advice to consumers over the last two weeks and failing to coordinate properly with regulators. Last week, the company confirmed to The Verge that only 130,000 Note 7 units have been returned to date — leaving approximately 90 percent of affected devices still in the hands of consumers. For more details on the internal pressures at Samsung that may have led to this state of affairs, check out the full report from Bloomberg.